Photo courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Portland Timbers 2 continued their stellar finish to the regular season as Villyan Bijev tallied a goal and assisted the game’s opening goal by Neco Brett for a 2-0 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 at Thunderbird Stadium. T2 extended its winning streak to four games. WFC2, which clinched a berth to the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs on Saturday, was looking toward establishing a top-four finish to try and secure a home postseason game in the opening round. Vancouver wasn’t able to do so as the host side extended its winless streak to five games (0-3-2). WFC2 is 11-9-9 (42 points) overall and 6-4-4 at home. Portland continues to hang around for a hopeful postseason spot. In addition to the four-game winning streak, it has won three straight on the road. Portland improved to 11-14-4 (37 points) overall and 5-9-1 on the road. T2 is one point behind San Antonio FC (10-11-8, 38 points), which currently occupies the eighth postseason slot. Vancouver won the season series against Portland with a 3-1-0 record.
13’ – POR – Neco Brett (Villyan Bijev)
42’ – POR – Villyan Bijev
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Portland was energetic from the opening whistle with a number of early scoring chances, and T2 capitalized on a quickly-taken free kick in the 13th minute. Dylan Damraoui set the ball down quickly to dish to Villyan Bijev on his left as Vancouver’s defense was still a bit scattered in the box. Bijev lofted the ball toward Neco Brett on the left side of the box. Collecting near the end line, Brett took a couple dribbles to his right for a better angle of attack and from just outside the six-yard area fired past WFC2 goalkeeper Marco Carducci for a 1-0 Timbers 2 lead. Brett leads T2 with seven goals and Bijev notched his ninth assist, which ties for the USL lead with Sacramento Republic FC’s Danny Barrera.
2. Vancouver gifted T2 a goal just before the halftime break in the 42nd minute. Portland played a deep ball from the midfield toward Bijev, and WFC2 defender Cole Seiler attempted to head the ball back to Carducci. He barely made contact with the ball and Bijev took advantage, taking a quick tap and then booting it home for a 2-0 lead through 45 minutes for his sixth goal of the campaign.
3. Despite being at home and also holding some good spells of possession, WFC2 didn’t challenge T2 goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh too often, especially in the first half. Things improved in the second half though. One of Vancouver’s better pushes was in the 59th minute when Thomas Sanner ripped a shot in which McIntosh sprawled to his right. But the shot and save were not recorded as Sanner had been whistled for a foul. Down the stretch in the 78th minute, second-half sub Fatawu Safiu tried to sneak a free kick inside the right post and McIntosh dove well to his left to make the save, and then in stoppage time he stuffed a Kyle Greig attempt at the edge of the 18, eventually securing the clean sheet.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Villyan Bijev, Portland Timbers 2 – Bijev continues to impress as he factored into both T2 goals and helping his side extend its winning streak to four.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. OKC Energy FC – Sept. 21, 10 p.m. ET, McLeod Athletic Park
Portland Timbers 2 vs. Arizona United SC – Sept. 24, 10 p.m. ET, Merlo Field